Astro Boy: Omega Factor Review

Astro Boy: Omega Factor is a platform/shooting game for the Game Boy Advance. Created by Treasure, who also created Gun Star Heroes for the Sega Genesis, Ikaruga for the Dreamcast/GameCube, and Radiant Silvergun for the arcade/Sega Saturn. They are widely respected as one of the very best action game companies, with Ikaruga/Radiant Silvergun being regarded by many as the greatest shooting games to date. Astro Boy: Omega Factor lives up to all of these other classics, and will become a classic in its own right.

Astro Boy: Omega Factor is based on the Anime from the 50’s of the same name (without the Omega Factor part). From what I hear, Astro Boy was one of the earliest manga’s in Japan, created in the early 1950’s. I’m no anime authority, so I’m sure some of the other Forever Geek author’s would have more information on the history of the character and story.

Back to the game, it’s your basic run, jump, shoot platformer game, with a few side-scrolling shooting sequences to mix up the gameplay a bit. Astro Boy has a basic punch/kick combo attack, a laser finger, an arm cannon which is a larger version of the finger laser, a dash attack, and a machine gun attack which attacks all enemies on the screen. Some of the more damaging attacks are considered special attacks, which can only be used when you have EX power, which is charged up by performing regular attacks like the finger laser and your punch.

You also have jet boots, which can be used to jump higher, or quickly move from one side of the screen to another. As you upgrade your skills throughout the game, you will be able to use your jets more times per jump.

Which brings us to one of the interesting parts of the game, a very basic role-playing system. According to the game, Astro Boy has a special “robot heart” type thing called the Omega Factor that makes him more special than other robots, it gives him a soul like a human. As he meets character throughout the game, they are added to his Omega Factor chart, which also lets him increase his skill in one of 6 areas, his Life, Laser, Machine Gun, jet boots, sensors, and punch. As he upgrades his weapons they become more powerful, life gives him more health, and the sensors allow him to see through fog/smoke, and later detect hidden characters. There is a bit of strategy as you upgrade, trying to decide whether to upgrade your life or your laser or punch, etc.

The graphics in the game are extremely well done. They are all very bright and interesting, with tons of animation in the characters, the weapons, and even the backgrounds. The first level is the most impressive in my opinion, because it shows Astro Boy falling from the sky with a background of dozens of flying cars whizzing by. There is a great sense of depth and activity in that first scene which is quite impressive for a little 2D platform game.

Though I have to mention some of these graphical niceties do cause a slow down in the game every now and then. Usually it’s not a bad thing though, as the slow down is usually when there are dozens of enemies and bullets all over the screen, so it’s nice to have it slow down to help you dodge some of the bullets flying at your head.

I presume many of the characters in the game are taken from the original manga, and many of them are quite interesting. With so many characters in the game (close to 50) you never really get to know many of them that well, but they are all unique and interesting none the less. There is actually quite a bit of story in the game, with some morals about peace, acceptance, love, bravery, etc thrown in for good measure.

The sound effects and background music are well done, though you can’t expect too much from them considering it’s a game boy advance game being played through a single speaker. However it’s worth it to note that they are never distracting or monotonous, so they don’t detract from the game experience.

There are around 40 levels in the game, though due to a twist in the story you will have to play through them at least twice, which extends the length of the game a bit. However because of the way the story plays out it doesn’t feel like too much of a cheap trick to lengthen the game, so I wasn’t too upset about it.

Many of the levels have a boss or mini-boss, which is kind of a tradition for Treasure games. The boss battles are sometimes lengthy, and are all unique. Some you’ll fight on the ground, some in the air, some under water, some during the side-scrolling shooter portion of the game, etc. All of the bosses have multiple attacks and patterns, so you’ll probably be surprised by a few and have to try several times before you memorize the patterns well enough to defeat them. Some of the bosses are huge also, taking up multiple tiles in the game, with some barely even fitting on the screen at one time.

I got approximately 10 hours of play-time out of the game, though you could easily triple that if you tried to play through it at the harder difficulty levels, and tried to go for the highest scores for each level.

Overall the game was quite fun, and is well worth picking up if you enjoy platform or action games of any type, or if you are a big Astro Boy fan.

*Rating: 4/5*

“Buy it on Amazon.com”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0001YYNKS/twotallsocks-20

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